Remove Negative and Fake Reviews from Yelp!, Google and Other Platforms

TLDR; Learn how you can handle negative reviews and remove fake reviews from Yelp! and other online review sites.

Few things can be more painful than seeing someone publicly smearing your (hopefully) good name. Negative word-of-mouth has been going on for centuries, just in different ways!

“I can see he’s not in your good books,’ said the messenger.

‘No, and if he were I would burn my library.”

– William Shakespeare

It is not uncommon these days for the grievances of unhappy customers and ex-employees to be played out by maliciously reviewing businesses online.

There is a fine line between constructive reviews based on fact and malicious lying based on nothing but anger. We will try to help you make things right again!

This article was updated in May 2019

Can Hook SEO Remove a Negative Review For Me?


This is a self-help article created from years of research, but please understand that HOOK SEO does not have the staff to help you.

I feel your pain, I truly do. But please do not call and ask us to remove your reviews. Use this information to help yourself.

If you would prefer to listen to most of the advice discussed in this article, we cover it in episode 1 of the podcast DIGITAL MARKETING MASTERS, available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Castbox, Spotify, Alexa, and pretty much anywhere you listen to podcasts.

If you are a business dealing with many locations, or hundreds of reviews and you want to talk to an expert on review management, then you should definitely contact us about consulting with your marketing staff or operations people on how you can handle problems with review spam, fake reviews, negative reviews, or a lack of reviews.

Can I Remove a Yelp Review?

Yes and No.

Yes, with a little know-how, it is possible for some reviews.

No, because it’s not always possible. Yelp and other review sites such as Google, Facebook, Yellow Pages, Dex, Trip Advisor, RipOff Report, BBB, etc., all have the right (in the USA) to legally store and display user-created content without being liable for its content. Long story short, they don’t have to remove anything if they don’t want to, with a few exceptions.

But all is not lost!

I’ve gotten hundreds of reviews removed over the years and had people let me know this helped them remove reviews hundreds of times. If you stick to the process outlined here, it will give you a fighting chance!


What if a Review Crime is Being Committed?

If you believe you are being blackmailed – or you are a lawyer or law enforcement professional, you can use our Free Review Crime Course to find out how to report a review crime or how to obtain legal information from Yelp. (and other review sites)

Few things can be more frustrating than a fake negative review.

They seem impossible to remove and they seldom get “filtered” by company algorithms such as Yelp! employs to “protect businesses from fake reviews.”negative-nancy

“They cook the food in the morning and then leave it out all day on the counter. It is disgusting!”

Here is another example:

“The fat waitress was rude and didn’t even bring us water.  When I asked her about it, she just walked off and ignored us. What a bitch. Won’t go there again!”

What do these two reviews have in common?

  1. They are both fakes.
  2. They won’t get auto-filtered by the review site’s algorithm.
  3. You can get these removed about 90% of the time with a little know-how.

Negative Reviews: What NOT To Do

The first thing not to do is to freak out and leave a badly worded and enraged reply to the comment. This will make it more likely that the review will not be removed.

DO NOT threaten Yelp! or Google that you will sue them or take them to court over a review. They are huge companies.  They live in court. Unless you have very deep pockets, don’t even consider this.

Retaliation is NOT a good idea – you are more likely to get in even more trouble.

DO NOT get into a “flame war” with someone on a review site.  It will just make you both look unprofessional and unreasonable and it could drive them to seek out more review sites to bad mouth your business further.

DO NOT track them down on other social media to bad mouth them or their business. This comes under retaliation, but I wanted to mention it twice.  Just don’t do it!

When it comes to reviews, what NOT to do, is just as important as what you need to do. Click To Tweet

Remove Fake Reviews: How Can I Get This Crap Removed?


1. The easiest way, by far, is to have the customer remove their negative review.

This is not always possible but this is your first go-to step to remove a negative review. All they need to do is log back onto the website they left the review on and hit the “remove” or “delete” button under their own review.

Note: On Yelp!, reviewers cannot delete reviews from the mobile Yelp App. It’s a good idea to let the reviewer know How To Delete A Yelp Review.

They have to log into Yelp with a computer to delete their review.  They can edit their review on the app, such as changing from 2 stars, to 4 stars, or changing the text.  To delete, they can go to ABOUT ME -> REVIEWS and then click on the little garbage can icon on the bottom right next to the review for your business.

Deleting reviews can work on Ripoff Report, Google+, Yelp!, Facebook, Yellow Pages, YMLP and other review and map sites.

  1. Calm down.  Only contact the offending reviewer with a level head.
  2. Try to contact the customer offline – or at least off the review site itself. Best is to be able to talk to them in person or over the phone. See if they left a comment card or if you have any contact information for them.
  3. Be overly polite and nice. People have a hard time arguing with polite people. (Kill ’em with kindness!)
  4. Tell them you understand their frustration or why they are upset. Empathy wins.
  5. Take steps to clear up the issue and make an honest effort to do so.
  6. Make sure that there is verifiable or at least anecdotal evidence the consumer or ex-employee will be able to see and believe the issue is resolved.
  7. Ask them to remove or at least modify their review.
  8. Explain to them that other people work there and that bad reviews are hurting their friends that work there or people who count on those jobs to support their families.
  9. It’s not about you! It’s about them.  Make them think they are doing a good deed by removing their review.
  10. Offer them something in return as a gesture of good faith, such as a free coffee or free meal at your restaurant or cafe, or to come in and see changes you have made that will alleviate their concerns.

I understand that you had a bad experience at Cafe Hook SEO last week. I wanted to let you know that we have taken steps to ensure that all our other servers are aware that every table should be given water immediately after being seated and that it is important, especially in the hot summer months.

If you would like, I can leave a gift certificate for you for a free dessert next time you come into the cafe so that you can see how we have made these changes based on your input. If this is satisfactory, I would like to ask you to remove your complaint on Yelp.

Please note that Yelp reviews cannot be removed on the mobile app and have to be removed from the website.

Not every step is going to be appropriate or work for every customer, but anything you can do to get them to remove their bad review is worth the effort, especially in service-based businesses where your reputation is everything.

2. T.O.S. Violations

Every review site has something they call their T.O.S. or Terms Of Service. This is where they list all the things they allow and don’t allow in their reviews.

If a review is a personal attack on an employee, defamatory, derogatory or attacks a person based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion or other factors, you can have their reviews removed.  

In the previous example where someone says, “our fat waitress” is generally enough to have a review removed for T.O.S. violations, even though they are not pointing out a specific individual.  Also look at the following example.

“John was our server and he was terrible. He was slow when he was there and smelled like pot.”

John is not the owner of the business, so this review can potentially be removed as a TOS violation.

Always mention that you “believe” it is a Terms Of Service violation.  In many review sites, they use an automated support process called a ticketing system, and that system is programmed to first review an incoming contact for certain words.  If it detects words like TOS in your message, it is likely to send that review to someone who deals with T.O.S. violations directly.  This improves your chances of having a review removed.

Hello.  In this review I have flagged, they mention an employee named ‘John’ and that he smells like marijuana.  This is not true and I believe that mentioning him by name is a violation of the Yelp terms of service.

And another example:

In this review, Mrs. Downer has mentioned that her ‘fat waitress’ was slow and didn’t give them water to drink. We have a couple employees who some may consider over-weight and I believe that this rude and unfounded personal attack on them is a violation of the Google terms of service for reviews.

Ex-employee example:

Debbie D. was working for us for the past 3 months.  She left this review the day that she was let go. This review is nothing more than ex-employee retaliation and I believe is against the Yelp! terms of service.

One note about T.O.S. removals is that you should also reply to the review publicly stating that you have requested it be removed as a violation of their TOS.  For example, “This fake review has been flagged for a violation of the Yelp! terms of service.”


You mean to tell me that review isn’t real?

Foul language is an easy way to get a review removed for a T.O.S. violation. If they are calling people names or using profanity, these can be reported and removed.

Review Site Terms of Service & Removal Guidelines

Yelp: Content Guidelines

Google Maps / Google My Business: User Contributed Content Policy Help Center

Facebook: Community Standards

Yellow Pages: User Generated Content Terms

Trip Advisor: Help Center

Dex: Review Guidelines

CitiSearch: Help Center

3. Reply if all else fails – but not always!

If you cannot have a review removed by the reviewer or for T.O.S., then replying may be your only other option.

1. If the reviewer sounds like a whiner, completely unreasonable or says something that makes them seem stupid, don’t reply.  People will get it and ignore their review. 

Note: this is where the “helpful” and “not helpful” buttons on most review sites come in. Click on “not helpful” and you can encourage others people you know to do the same. When you ask other people to do this, make sure they don’t all do it once! The review site will detect this and ignore them.

2. If you have proof that the review is false, post it in a way that seems factual and not emotional.

Do this:

“Our supplier of ice cream is Tillamook Creamery and you can visit their website to see the ingredients are all natural.”

Not that:

“You obviously don’t know your ass from ice cream because we use nothing but the best, you troll!!!1!!”

3. If the person never stepped foot in your store, say that.

“Debbie D. is neither a current or past customer of our store. This is a fabrication.”


Legal Action

As I said earlier, legal action is unlikely to help in most cases. If you have proof that someone or a group of people at a competing business are conspiring to ruin your business, you may be able to use legal action to stop them.

The first step would be to get legal advice from an attorney. Make sure they are very familiar with the Internet and technology.  A misrepresentation of the technology can just end up making you and your business look worse.

The first step usually is to send a cease and desist letter (also known as an “infringement letter” or “demand letter”) telling them that they need to stop and remove all negative reviews from the listed accounts or face future legal action.

If you believe an actual crime is being committed, such as someone asking you for money or they will ruin your reputation, use our Free Review Crime Course to find out how to report a review crime or how to obtain legal information from Yelp and other review sites if you are legal counsel or a law enforcement person.

Review Spam is Becoming a Serious Issue

Review spam is where people have set up networks of accounts using “bots” (automated computer programs) or are paying people to randomly review businesses. The reason they do this is that they sell reviews. They want to “build up” fake accounts so that when people pay them to leave false positive or negative reviews, the review will not get filtered as easily. There have been reports of review spam networks covering thousands of reviews.

Usually, they are fairly easy to detect by looking at their accounts. If they are reviewing a motorhome manufacturer in Vancouver, a bar in New York, and an Ice Cream Shop in London on the same day, they are probably fake accounts. They often will have lots of accounts with just stars and no description on sites like Google or they will have the same sounding reviews every place.

Sometimes the poor grammar can also give them away.

“These guys really know what talking about. They handle my service good. I will back for them for later use.”

Always report review spam, but make sure you check for TOS violations in their reviews first.  It is especially difficult to get a review removed for being review spam because companies don’t want to admit that they are not taking care of their data about your business by allowing review spam to continue.

Positive Review Spam?

If someone is positively reviewing you, and it’s fake, why should you care?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

They often are copying the text of your previous REAL positive reviews and then it looks like YOU are the one trying to build up your own business with fake reviews.

We have not been able to confirm this yet, but we’ve had reports of people having both the real and fake review removed automatically by Yelp’s algorithm because of this.

Reviews and SEO

Everyone knows reviews affect search rank… or do they?

According to an article posted on Bright Local, Google is checking reivew, but they are looking for an overall reputation. Having more positive reviews may give you a good reputation, but the odd negative review isn’t going to tank your search rankings.

“…we do think that it is extremely important to stay on top of your online review profile. While we don’t know how, or even if Google is measuring it, we think that there is a good chance that they are. In our site quality reviews, we have seen time and time again that many sites that were negatively affected by the August 1, 2018 or September 27, 2018 algorithm updates had horrible online review profiles.

While every business is likely to get the odd negative review, what we believe Google is trying to measure algorithmically is whether there is an overwhelmingly negative sentiment online about the reputation of a business.

If your client’s business has the odd negative review, this is not likely to hurt their rankings. But if reviews are reflecting obvious business problems such as lack of refunds, extremely poor service, etc. then you may find that Google does not want to rank these businesses highly.”

What If I Just Ignore Yelp?

This infographic shows why you can’t just ignore Yelp! With over 169 million unique visitors per month, Yelp is here to stay. Like it or not, people are reviewing your business and people are looking up your business to see what their peers had to say.

Want an update on Yelp as of 2019? Check the Yelp Fact Sheet


Negative Reviews Can Affect Your Website Search Ranking

According to Neil Patel’s Beginner’s Guide to Negative SEO:

Negative online reviews and a negative sentiment against your brand can hamper your local search rankings. Only 5% of consumers will convert after encountering a negative review of your product.

Use Positive Reviews To Protect Your Reputation

Having your best customers, friends and relatives review your business can help to fortify your accounts from negative reviews… but you have to do it right!

How do you get positive reviews without having them all filtered? Follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Don’t review with brand-new accounts.
  2. Don’t have everyone review it at the same time.
  3. Don’t review from people in a different geographical area.
  4. Don’t review from people not near your business location at the time of their review.
  5. Have others click on their reviews as “helpful”.

Build up new Yelp! accounts or other review accounts by reviewing several other local businesses in the same area before reviewing your own business.  This will show the Yelp! algorithm that your account wasn’t set up just to review this one business.

If you send a mass email out to everyone you know or all your customers to review your site at the same time, the algorithms will detect this as “review bating” and hide their reviews. Try asking people as they come to the store or on social media, or send out an email to a couple people at a time.

People who are reviewing your business in Hillsboro, Oregon on their mobile device that are in Tampa Bay, Florida will have their reviews de-listed or flagged for removal most of the time.  Yelp! knows they aren’t in your business.

Businesses where people check-in with Yelp are more likely to have the reviews stick.

How to deal with negative reviews from #review sites like #yelp Click To Tweet

Before You Call Us… Please Read This

We have provided this information to help you deal with your negative or fake reviews.

It is not a service we offer except as part of an on-going marketing project.

We understand business leaders find reviews frustrating sometimes, but our small dedicated staff can only help our existing clients.

If you are looking to improve your reputation online, improve your search rankings, rake in leads with paid advertising, nail your messaging and connect with your customers… and have a reasonable budget to work with, then please contact us. We love to help – but we can’t help everyone, as much as we would love to.

We hear a lot of sad stories, and I feel for those people. I really do. But we just can’t help everyone, so please use this information to help yourself improve your online reputation. You can also listen to our DIGITAL MARKETING MASTERS PODCAST on YouTube:

Did You Find This Helpful? Share It and Review Hook SEO!

I hope that this short guide will help you improve your reviews on social media, review and map sites and help you deal with negative reviews.  Here are some links to connect with Hook SEO for more tips on promoting your local business, SEO and online marketing.

If you liked this article, check out Matt’s Awesome Blogging Tips!

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Comments 80

  1. Yelp no longer allows you to flag a review if the reason you give for flagging it is that the review is false or untrue. Between %25 and %30 of positive reviews are “Not currently recommended”, but bad reviews are left up even when they violate TOS for defamation. Why does Yelp give unquestioned credibility to bad reviews, but good review are treated with skepticism by there filters. Business owners who fall victim to false and defamatory reviewers will find that yelp has a def ear for them.

    1. 100%. Yelp is severely flawed and does not protect businesses or paying customers and will talk you in circles about their algorithms and how there system operates.

    2. As previously stated Yelp seems to only show negative emails but the ones that are positive, they query. The validity of Yelp is certainly called into question. If the reviews on this website are negative what about those many positive review listed on Yellowpages?

      1. Amen. Yelp is the biggest scam. Totally unfair. I have about 13-15 positive reviews that “are not recommended” even though I know for a FACT they are prior clients of mine that I did outstanding work for and won their trial and they were so happy they wanted to write a positive review and Yelp has the audacity to claim they “aren’t recommended”, even though they are all very specific and unique reviews. Then they post only one, yes, only one, negative review. So out of 15 total reviews, they only posted one, and yet there are 13 or so positive ones that Yelp won’t publish. I’m an attorney and this tempts me to file a class action lawsuit against Yelp. If anyone is interested please contact me: 801-809-1717 (Sean. Cell). Thanks!

        1. Post

          At best, there is something wrong with the algorithm. At worst, they are straight up hiding things on purpose. It’s hard to say. People keep going after them in court, but I haven’t seen anyone “win” that fight.

  2. Post

    Thank you for your comment Mike!

    You are correct, Yelp does not care if a review is factual or not. If you try to have it removed because you say it’s fake, this is what Yelp will send you.

    “We’re writing to let you know that we’ve evaluated ________’s review of [your business] that you recently reported. We rely on community engagement to help keep Yelp useful, and although we didn’t agree that this content should come down, we appreciate you bringing it to our attention.”

    By Yelp’s own admission, they have filtered out 25% of all reviews. They say that they don’t weigh negative reviews or positive reviews higher, but the jury is out on that one. It does seem to be geared toward hiding more positive than negative reviews. Without a much larger sample size, we have no way to prove that at this point.

    Several class action law suits have failed to win against yelp since they cannot prove that Yelp is manually changing reviews in exchange for advertising revenue. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, it just means no one has been able to prove it.

    In our experience, reviewers who are local, have established profiles with other reviews of businesses in the same area and talk about a realistic experience do seem to get posted more often.

    However, this does not mean fake reviews don’t get left up. It happens ALL THE TIME. There are very few TOS violations you can use to try to have them removed. Illegal actions, full names (first names don’t count anymore) or attacking employees or owners based on race, sex or other biases can be all grounds for TOS removal.

    That said, asking happy customers to review you online consistently can have an effect on your reviews. Be wary of having them do it “in store” as they could be on your wifi and make it seem like people are using a “review station” which will get them flagged. Getting a consistent flow of positive reviews will galvanize your reputation against the negative ones.

    If you are having an issue with fake reviews, I suggest that you flag them and have others do the same. This may encourage Yelp to remove them, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

    1. Matt, do you have any source or any other info about the full name of the employee for TOS removal? I think that seems unfair and I don’t think minimum wage employees should be vulnerable to this type of infamy. Thank you so much for your post and for working through the comments section.

  3. Finally found something useful to read and implement after hours of searching. I am really frustrated with the fake reviews posted by my competitor next door (I know it because he told me so) and that is why I had to consult an ORM company to work in the same direction. Their work was undoubtedly satisfactory and they are looking for suppressing more in future. But these easy to follow steps have nailed it, so I would do it on my own from now onwards. The ORM company may look into other matters, but I will take this matter in my own hands.

    1. Post

      Glad we could help. Sorry for the late reply, we had an issue with our comment spam blocker, but it’s fixed now! We are working on a book called Help with Yelp right now also.

  4. I have a old customer that has literally put me out of business. She has posted a false review about me claiming I am a felon ( I have my voters registration card and have served on a jury.) That I an a con man And that I am not a professional painter. I bought $90,000.00 worth of paint last year less than $5000.00 so far this year. This liar has put me out of business with false information about me. even telling people personal information about where I live(at my sisters house in a guest room) and lying about how I do business. Yelp wont publish any positive reviews from legitimate customers of which I have a lot. Its put me in bankruptcy with the assistance of Lone Star Legal Aid.Any lawyers out there have any defamation of character experience?

    1. Post

      Hello Bill. Sorry for the slow reply. We had a spam-blocker issue and I literally didn’t see your message until just now! I hate to hear those types of stories where people are being bullied by others through Yelp or any service. I do have some suggestions for you.
      1. I would consider going to your local Chamber of Commerce or networking group and make some friends and (once you know them) ask them to review your business. Sometimes having other local business people review you can help a lot. Especially if they can speak to your integrity.
      2. Go through and report each review and point at a specific sentence in the review which will point out a person’s name or derogatory comment about a person who works for the company and report those for TOS violations. (Terms of Service) They may not get taken down, but it’s worth a shot.
      3. Every happy customer you have, ask them if they have ever reviewed anyone on Yelp and ask them to review you if they were happy with your service. You need reviews by people who have existing reviews already, because those are more likely to be kept toward your rating.
      4. Try to contact the negative reviewers (if you know them) and find a way to get things square with them if at all possible so that they will remove their damaging reviews.

  5. But thing is some of the “negative” reviews on Yelp are HONEST reviews warning people about a bad experience they had. When large corporations mistreat clients or customers they should be put on public display.

    Why are people so quick to stand behind corruption and want to “just remove” the “bad” reviews when it’s exposed? All the reviews on Yelp aren’t fake. I know that for a fact. And some of those “negative” reviews are NECESSARY and NEED to be seen by the entire world! Just saying.

    1. Post

      I do agree Roseanna. Many of these reviews will not be filtered and also will not be able to be removed. For the most part, those reviews will be safe from removal. The ones businesses are often most concerned with are fake review by ex-employees or competitors which can really hurt a business’ reputation, but are completely unfounded.

    2. A Negative review that is honest is not the issue.

      It is the DISPARAGING ones that get personal and are based upon a customer that the business TRIES to resolve, but that person’s only interest is to do maximum damage.

      I am not one of those “large corporations”. My business is an LLC… and has one employee who strives to provide excellent service. The public often will go after the little guy, because they have NO EFFECT on the BIG BOX store. This is displaced emotion.

      YELP HIDES 4 pages of 5 star reviews on my firm…. the stars are shown in 10% grey-scale, so they look like no stars… and to see these, you have to scroll to the bottom of the page where is says “plus these 45 reviews we do not recommend”, all of which also is in 10% grey-scale. By design, few if any read these…. then the hidden reviews are in ORDER of how many stars, starting with 1 star…. to further dissuade from looking at the total actual reviews. Yelp does NOT average any hidden reviews into the SCORE they show in red stars, so they indeed ARE creating content, not just “delivering content” created by the public, a concept they cling to for immunity from the harm they inflict.

      I have some negative reviews that are a bit over the top, and factually a stretch, but they are customer’s opinion. I can deal. Others are outright attacks with no merit and the content of them generally speaks for itself. We live in a world where people feel more and more isolated, and they can not fight Amazon, Comcast, Best Buy or Home Depot. So they are easily triggered to go after the little guy who is susceptible to being harmed by their emotional outbursts.

      1. Post

        I hear you there. Reviews are definitely more detrimental to the small business owner than any large corporation.

    3. That may be true, there are definitely credible “neg” reviews, but not all, and as Hook reports they are nearly impossible to eliminate.

      If someone has an issue with a company, they should contact them directly and complain, not take the easy way out, run to Yelp or others and anonymously post. No one wins from this kind of nonsense… except Yelp.

  6. Wow, I’m surprised how much a bad review can influence a business. It seems like the competition can do what they want if they have enough money. Isn’t there a way to verify all the information so we actually know what kind of information to trust on Internet? My friend told me about some startup called Honaro but they don’t have such a big database of companies. I really think we will need an alternative to Yelp in the future.

    1. Post
  7. I got my first bad 1 star review in over 10 years in business and it is on Yelp. The problem is the guy says I didn’t answer my phone or return a VM. I document every VM that comes in and his name never is not in my records dating back to Dec 2015 and he complained in March 2016. What do you do with something like that? I never had any call, VM or interaction with this guy.

    1. I had the exact same experience! a 1 star for not answering a phone call or VM. Totally untrue. And, Yelp wouldn’t erase it. so I ma stuck with this crazy, inaccurate representation of my business. its not a business experience and they aren’t a client.

      1. Post

        You might be able to report it for this content guideline in Yelp’s TOS.
        “Relevance: Please make sure your contributions are relevant and appropriate to the forum. For example, reviews aren’t the place for rants about a business’s employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don’t address the core of the consumer experience.”

        1. Yelp doesn’t care if the reviews are rants about race, rags on somebody who answered the phone, reviews by non-clients, contain foul language, or were posted by competitors on a smear campaign. It is a true mafia. I am going to be filing a lawsuit against a DOE Defendant and doing a subpoena for Yelp’s records. I am absolutely sick of this. If others want to start filing lawsuits I will also act as a class attorney if people are interested. Yelp is destroying businesses with reckless abandonment.

          1. Hi I am a legal document assistant in Contra Costa County California. I am preparing a lawsuit to file against several reviews of my business. I have been clearly libeled by numerous people. I have been called a fraud, scam, incompetent, crook etc. I and my staff have been verbally abused , threatened with violence, lost thousands of dollars in credit card disputes and lost untold thousands more in sales that never happened due to Yelp reviews. We file eviction lawsuits for landlords, and since we have filed thousands of these cases the small percentage of people who don’t understand what we actually and post these negative reviews seem like a large number.

            I would be interested in your similar story, to see if there is something we can work together on.

      2. I got a negative Yelp review from a client that insisted on a quote for work before I can see what is needed. She called ona weekend, off hours, I made the mistake of asking her to call back on Monday, and after she kept pressing for a price, I told her I just got out of the shower, and do not have the ability to look up the parts at home….. you can imagine the review. Did I do anything “wrong” or do we have a social disorder with inability to deal with not having instant gratification ?

        I reply to every review, either to apologize for not satisfying their needs 100% when they needed it, I have to realize the reviewer is unlikely to budge, but others are reading replies. I am careful to be courteous, and try to leave an open door to come in and allow me to resolve the issue.

        1. Post

          It’s tough and there are unreasonable people out there everywhere you go. You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve seen over the years. People will post almost anything, even embarrassing medical information or personal financial details in some cases. Every time they step over the line, we get a chance to fight back by using the terms of service against them and getting their reviews removed or even getting them banned from the platform. I like to think of those as doing good for every business owner by getting them banned.

  8. This article has been informal. We have actually had a couple issues in the past with ex-employees and personal attacks on myself & my wife (but without mentioning our exact names in the review). What would be considered my best approach on this? I have flagged one review on yelp just a day ago and mentioned it’s a violation of yelps TOS and hoping this works, but has anyone had success with this and what other options do I have with the other 2 reviews?

    I feels if I flag all 3 reviews that the system will pick up on it and decline removal of any reviews based on too many reviews being flagged. Please share any thoughts or things things I can do

  9. Hi,I have a home based child care,and is licensed since 2001,never a problem of any kind.Back in 2014 I had a very particular parent.To make a long story short I can not,and I will not contact her to remove her review from Yelp.I did contact Yelp regarding 5 gorgeous reviews that I have hidden.The answer: we are sorry,a computer manages the reviews.Can you help me?

    1. Post

      Look for Terms of Service violations in their review. You can also have several other people flag the same review and say that it is fake. Lastly, make sure your happy customers are reviewing you, especially ones that have used Yelp before or use it regularly.

    1. Post

      If your business is a residence, or at the incorrect address or something like that, you can ask to have it removed. Also if the name is incorrect. A court ruling a couple years ago basically said Yelp can publish whatever they want on their website. So, there’s not a lot of options. I say get as many positive reviews as you can and use it as a tool to your advantage is usually the best route to take.

  10. Great article. There are also a lot of great comments. A lot of companies knee jerk reaction is to spend thousands on reputation management services when the best way to fight bad reviews is to drowned them out with as many positive reviews as possible. Email everyone of your customers on an ongoing basis and kindly ask them to give you a positive. Link to the platform you want them to leave the review on. Make it as easy as possible.

  11. I spent all but five minutes with this client and puts a horrible review like I spent hours on her and I didn’t. She made remarks that are untrue.

    1. Post
  12. What you’re not understanding is there are those reviews that completely not true!!!! And as a business owner I leave certain ones that are legit negative and reply back. But there are those that are completely false either written by a competitor or ex employee!

    1. Post

      Hi Donna. I understand your frustration, but the data actually shows that the large majority of reviews are real. However, we are providing this guide because we feel it is unfair when businesses are targeted by ex-employees, ex-spouses, competitors, or even people just reviewing the wrong business. Use our steps here to try to get those reviews removed and if you feel you are being illegally targeted or threatened by a competitor for money, etc., you should use our free course in the article that will let you know how to report a review crime.

      1. Matt -“The data actually shows that the large majority of reviews are real.” What data is that? How could they possibly know what’s a lie and what’s not, when done within reason.
        Sure, a blatant one like “there were roaches everywhere” would be easy to consider fake, but I can think of at least a dozen reasons off the top of my head why someone might have a personal beef or agenda against a business, and craft a clever, perfectly legitimate-sounding review, that’s completely untrue!
        How about just personal relationships for starters. What’s to stop an angry scorned lover from Libeling the S out of a business? Eesh I’m glad I’m not a business on Yelp, how frustrating. Good article.

        1. Post

          The data on reviews being real versus fake was studied a number of ways, depending which studies you look at. The most common way is to see which reviews were reported as fake versus not reported at all. This is by no means an exact science for the reasons you mentioned but it’s a reasonable indicator. Remember though, if fake reviews weren’t a problem, we wouldn’t have written this article.

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  14. Mike at Hook Seo,… I did not understand your explanation above for “possible” business to be removed from Yelp. Can you better explain what you meant by: ( If your business is a residence, or at the incorrect address or something like that, you can ask to have it removed.) The questions are: If you are doing business out of your residence then Yelp should remove you from their database? And if someone might say you were stomping around in their garage when evidently they may have been making fun of a disability,…Is that a TOS Violation? Is Yelp now ignoring their TOS Violation protocol? All my thanks for your prompt response…M.Montgomery.

    1. Post

      Hello, Mikkens.

      What I am talking about is how Yelp will not remove your business if you ask them to remove it from their index, except in certain cases. One of these cases is if your business listing on Yelp is listed at a residential address. Yelp will not remove your home-based business from their index, unless you request it and they can confirm that it is a residential address. It would not be automatically removed or removed based on someone’s reviews.

      For your second question, if someone is making fun of a person’s disability, that is definitely a TOS violation and you should report it as such.

      1. Hello Matt, thank you for the useful pointers. If you are an apartment building, so multi-family residential, does that qualify to remove your page since it’s residential but it’s not a single family home?

        If so, would love to remove our page. Please let me know

        1. Post

          I think that Yelp would clarify it as a business, so you probably can’t get them to remove the listing. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t write to them and ask them to remove it. You could say that the address is not the property management company, so it’s not the address of the business or something along those lines.

  15. Hey Matt, great article. Quick question: do you know if there are a lot of problems of fake reviews going on Yelp? Maybe Yelp encouraging people get reviews any way they can and not doing a good job of filtering out fake ones? Do you know of instances where you’ve seen companies pay people (like the guy mentioned in the craigslist ad above on previous comments) to write reviews? I’ve noticed on a couple of businesses that the reviews seemed canned…Thanks for your input!

    1. Post

      There is a huge problem with fake reviews. The real problem is there are these “review networks” where there are hundred (even thousands) of fake accounts that just randomly review businesses to “build” their profiles. Then they can sell 5-star reviews (or 1-star reviews) that won’t get removed because the fake accounts have an established record of leaving reviews at other businesses. Currently, I have not seen any talk from Google or Yelp about monitoring this in any automated way. Seems like a fairly simple AI could sort those out pretty quickly, but I guess there isn’t really a profit motive for them to have fewer reviews at this point. I would think that accuracy of their platform would be enough to justify it, but as far as I know, it isn’t happening.

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  18. Thank you for this. I am a server and was cyber bullied on Yelp last year. Someone wrote three negative reviews about the restaurant and mentioned me in each one, referring to me as the “red-headed old lady” and “red-headed bully.” The verbiage was exactly the same (“advice to the owner, she is costing you business”) and it was obvious the same person wrote all three. So I left a few complimentary reviews about my service by registering with my throwaway email addresses. My boss told me that it’s less likely to be a repeat complainer if the reviewer has reviewed lots of places, but clearly she was wrong. It’s really unfortunate that Yelp has such an impact on the vitality of small businesses yet does nothing to ensure that those businesses, or their employees, can’t be so easily targeted by one pathetic loser behind a keyboard. And it’s too bad the public puts so much faith in the website when it’s so easy to skew the ratings. I will never look to that stupid red flower for recommendations, and now that I know good reviews can be fake as well I will warn others. Btw check Youtube for a great clip of Aziz Ansari on the Tonight Show reading actual responses from business owners to negative Yelps.

    1. Post

      Thank you for letting us know it was helpful Kim. We love to hear that! I hope she was able to get the reviews removed because calling you names is against the Yelp Terms of Service and should be able to easily get them removed.

    1. Post

      Trolls are everywhere – but the nice thing about Trolls is that they generally try to be insulting – and that is almost always against the Terms of Service and is grounds for getting a review removed.

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  20. Competition and ex-employees are a source of bad reviews but BUM customers/clients are the biggest source. I had a guy who needed $5000+ of work done on his situation and wanted me to get started by paying me $100 when he felt like it. I was a new business owner and took the guy on. My bad. He literally thought I would work for free, called me all the time, distracted me from other clients… I cut him lose, kept the $300 he sent in for $1500 of work I did and he blasted me on Yelp. Let’s start a site called pley, the inverse of Yelp, where business owners warn each other of deadbeat clients. Or is that what collections is for?

    1. Post

      There have been many iterations of a system for reviewing bad customers but they never seem to be able to get it off the ground. I’m not sure what is wrong with the business model for it as I haven’t looked into them too much yet. Eventually, I think something will be created, but it could also turn away potentially good customers by businesses poorly reviewing them to keep their own customers. There seems to always be a problem with lying in the system.

    2. Genius idea!!!!! As a business owner I’m so frustrated with the reviews we are getting and most of them are a bunch of lies. They always add on lies to the story.

  21. So I actually found this page because I had just posted my second real negative review on Yelp! and, although my review was honest, I have stressed about it ever since. The first negative review I posted when I was quite legitimately steamed. The business contacted me and asked to discuss my review…it felt safe over the phone and they were kindly asking with what seemed like sincere concern for my dissatisfaction. I was still steamed but having a sincere apology from the “offender” was all it took for me to realize that I wasn’t quite as wronged as my emotions made me believe….and it certainly wasn’t enough to tank a small business. They never once asked me to remove the review and they never once made me feel like their apology was insincere or to make me feel bad for reviewing them. I immediately removed the review. I am an emotional person, and a lot of times acknowledging your mistakes (assuming there was a perceived mistake) and a sincere apology can heal even the deepest of wounds. The fastest thing to send me over the edge is when I voice dissatisfaction and person in charge is clearly uncomfortable with admitting any wrongdoing OR is more interested in telling you why are less believable than their staff. This page was great advice….it worked on me!

    1. Post

      Thank you, Cassidy. I’m glad we were able to help. I have used both negative and positive reviews to help me make decisions about a business but I am definitely on the side of looking at multiple reviews. One or two negative reviews or ones that are older will not sway my opinion on a business. They also need to be detailed. There is a lot of review spam out lately.

  22. Someone posted a bad review about a different company on our site, even mentioning the company by name, yet Yelp was unable to verify this. Are they completely illiterate???

    1. Post

      Hello Jessica. I feel for you. This happens all the time. The trick is, that a NO from Yelp is really not no-forever, it’s just the first no. I would reply to them and explain in more detail what you mean and quote the review.

  23. Matt, thank you for the great article. I still feel like I’m in a no win situation with Yelp, but I learned a lot. I had a five star rating before I terminated an employee for stealing. Within 14 days I had 6 1 star reviews from people that were not my clients in areas that I don’t service. Two are even vulgar, Yelp has not taken them down, however they did take down a positive review from some one that contacted me through the Yelp site.
    You mentioned a bit about legal action, when does this become slander?
    Thanks for any replies.


    1. Post

      If they have vulgar comments, Yelp should take them down. You may have to call them if they didn’t remove for vulgar language. Make sure your message is clear when you flag them. “This reviews contains vulgar language and should be removed for a TOS violation.”

  24. To be honest I do not know what is the solution for this as we are unable to remove the fake reviews. It’s so easy for the competitors to leave the fake reviews at your google business. Is there any way we can check/verify the user’s profile whether it is real or not?

    1. Post

      You usually can click on their profile and look at their other reviews and if they aren’t real it should be obvious. For example, they could rate a place in Denver, Co, and then an ice cream shop in France on the same day, etc.

  25. why not offer a YELP customer appreciation day. lets say, FRIDAY is YELP customer appreciation day. only available to 5 star yelp customers. if you leave a 5 star rating on Friday we will give you a $5 coupon for being a good, happy YELP customer. and why not? they are such good people and deserve a little reward.

  26. Hi

    We are a local Self Employed Business, that has been using Yelp & other similar Website.
    Although we find the above Information very informative, this Article does not Address, the Issue “Why” Yelp gets away with removing Great Reviews. Especially Great Reviews from legit Clients. Yes, we have a few Bad Reviews. But what “Good & Honest” Company doesn’t.
    As the saying goes, ” Gotta take the Good, with the Bad” That a Bad Review is a Great Way, to improve One’s Skills & Business.

    We’ve tired speaking to Yelp & they are not budging. Even when we proved that our Client was legit, they refuse to listen.
    They purist that their Review System is doing it’s JOB, to make sure that the Public get accurate Information.
    We don’t have a lot of Money. And we doubt a Court of Law will even give us the time of day either, even IF we tired to sued Yelp.

    We have seen a “Change” in Yelp, along with other Review Websites A couple Years ago, Yelp (Just using them as an Example) said they loved Small Businesses & want to help them make a Name for themselves. They had it Set Up, that Small Businesses could pay $150, $350, $750, Etc……..Per Month. Now it’s “By The Click” (Same with other Ad Webs all over) . We’ve figured out, the more $ you spend, the more Exposure Yelp, Etc………put up your Ad. But, we aren’t rich & have $750 to spend in 1 Month on a MAYBE, we will get Clientele.
    And with every New Client Review, Yelp (In particularly) decides their System is the Best there is, to remove that Review after a Week or 2.

    So, we’ve been telling Yelp Clients to no longer leave Reviews on Yelp & to put them on other Web Reviewers, Websites
    We even dedicated a whole Page on our Website by exposing the corruption in Yelp’s System.
    We also have all the Deleted & pulled Reviews on there as well.

    We just are wondering if the Author of this Article has any Advice on this.


    1. Post

      We suggest moving your reviews to the platform that will best support your business. If you are a local brick and mortar or service area, then Google Reviews are probably a great place. Facebook reviews can be helpful too. Yelp can still help, but getting enough review to make up for their system “moving” most of them into the not recommended area can be really tough.

  27. I also had an accurate and honest negative review removed from Yelp. It was a two star review of a restaurant that had a five star aggregate rating. My review was up for 4 or 5 days, but then it disappeared, I’m guessing by the restaurant owner. When I try to repost, I get a message that says “Oops. Something went wrong. Try again later”. What a crock. My real issue is that I have received nothing from Yelp to explain why my review was taken down. I do not think I violated the TOS, but I think Yelp owes me an explanation so I can address the issue.

    1. Post

      There used to be an email sent to the email address on the Yelp account when a review has been removed. I am not positive if they still do that or not. It is likely that it was removed for a suspected TOS violation or potential spam. Though your review may not fit either criterion, the automated system still makes mistakes, or a support person at Yelp was convinced it needed to be removed. Just like business owners, there isn’t much recourse if they don’t want to post your review or if they removed it. Yelp has the legal right to remove or allow anything on their website and app that they like.

    2. Yelp claims they will not remove a review if paid, but I for one DO NOT believe that. I very much believe that business owner PAID them to remove your review. Funny how they’re completely willing to violate their OWN terms of service for the right amount of money. The people who run YELP are morally bankrupt for sure.

  28. I received a negative review of my firm 0n 3-30-19. It was from a client I conducted an investigation for well over two yrs ago and left on good terms. Without going into details the person was very paranoid and believed that other people she hired before and after me were compromised and paid off and started to work against her.Why this person waited more than 2 yrs and finally included me in her paranoia is beyond me.The funny thing about her review was it was the first Yelp Review to get though. Four others went to gray. I simply responded to the review in a long detailed but professional manner,disputed everything.I mentioned my background and longevity in my profession and told the client to e mail or call to discuss the matter and if she has a formal complain then take it up with my state’s licensing authority. I got two clients to write a review,one was cut and paste from a Google review and I am awaiting one more review from a Google reviewer. I also invited prospective clients to review my positive Google and Linkedin reviews. This review was not only to the person that wrote the review but to prospective clients since I never had any reviews go though on Yelp. Funny thing happened today 4-13-2019 is that the 1 star review went to gray and one of my 5 star reviews that was to gray is now visible and my rating is at 5 stars with four reviews. Her review no longer matters.

  29. I have had an established business for 30 years. Lived here my complete life, i truly go the extra 10 miles to have a wonderfully happy customer. It comes back to me tenfold. Over time i had 84 excellent loving reviews at yelp.

    Yelp started calling me to signup fir a small fee per hit on my review page. I mean some days 3 to 5 diff.yelp people calling to sign me up. I finally i said nooooooo thank you.nicely.
    That very afternoon they marked my business as closed.
    Twelve new loving reviews have been posted by new people that have found me and those reviews never eeach my business page. One girl even called yelp ..said I was still in business, and was told they had no way of increasing amount of posts shown for mybusiness. They said it was her internet browser issues. She signed up under new email and tried again. Nothing. Still shows closed with only two excellent reviews.
    I call that extortion.

    1. Post

      This sounds terrible. I am sorry you are having such an issue with them. You might be able to try submitting to Yelp screenshots showing it closed and an image showing your business open. This is a case where you really need to keep badgering them to change it. When they say No, it’s just the first no… expect lots of No’s on the way to them fixing it.

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